I am not talking about him almost claiming Thomas was too inexperienced. He was. Not only that, he sexually harassed Anita Hill, AND was into pornography, just as claimed. The truth of which came out a few years ago when David Brock (the founder of Media Matters) acknowledged that very thing. (In case you don't know his story, he was a major insider in the Republican Right Wing Machine. He said they knew Clarence Thomas was into pornography, and that he certainly did sexually harass Anita Hill. For good measure, he threw in that Senator Clinton was right - there WAS a right-wing conspiracy against them. When asked on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart why he was finally coming forward with this information NOW, he said it was because his conscience was killing him, or words to that effect. You can check out his book, Blinded By The Right for all of the details.) But just guess who was the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversaw the Clarence Thomas hearings? Yup - Joe Biden.
Seems I wasn't the only one thinking about the connections between Joe Biden, Clarence Thomas, and Anita Hill. As I was looking around this morning (and AFTER I started this, I might add), I came across the following NY Times article by Kate Phillips, "Biden and Anita Hill, Revisited." In it, Ms. Phillips says:
It was another time and another place, but the issues of race, gender and politics intersected in a volatile way that still may hold resonance today, especially given the interplay of those themes (granted in entirely different ways) during the epic primary battle between Mr. Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Some women, invariably of Senator Clinton’s age, who were actively involved in opposing Mr. Thomas’s confirmation in 1991 recall the narrow vote (52-48 in favor) as “a day of shame for the Senate and a day of shame for women,” as one lawyer said this week. The episode in time evoked strong reactions from women across the country, who viewed the judiciary panel as 14 white men who too easily dismissed Ms. Hill’s accusations and who did not allow the testimony of other women who might have corroborated or helped buttress her account to prove a case of sexual harassment.
An interesting theme, meaning one that resonates with today, was apparent in the Hill/Thomas hearings as well:
Ms. Ross, who was one of the lawyers assisting Ms. Hill, asserts that Mr. Biden treated Mr. Thomas too even-handedly because of the racially charged nature of the hearings. (Remember Justice Thomas’ charge that he had been subjected to a “high-tech lynching.”) Ms. Ross said that Mr. Biden “was accused of being labeled racist, so the Republicans were blackmailing him and he pushed the levers to make the case look like there wasn’t a case when there was.”
From not permitting other witnesses like Angela Wright to testify who would have been favorable to Ms. Hill, to not permitting affidavits from an expert on whether a pattern of behavior needed to be established to prove sexual harassment, Ms. Ross concluded: “He did everything to make it be good for Thomas and to slant it against her.” (Mr. Biden and his staff at times indicated that Ms. Wright and others weren’t willing to testify, but the record and books written since appear contradictory, as these women were held waiting in the wings for days.)
Huh. You don't say. Since I was subject myself to the insult of being called a racist just this morning for not supporting Obama, no doubt, Biden was reading the tea leaves correctly. But - such a threat should not hamper one from speaking out the truth, or seeking the truth, no matter what one is called. It was his JOB to do so, especially since Thomas was up for a lifetime position. IMHO, that is.
As one might expect:
Over the years, Mr. Biden has defended his role in the hearings. In “Strange Justice,” a book about the Clarence Thomas confirmation, authors Jill Abramson (managing editor for news here at The Times) and Jane Mayer, author of “The Dark Side” and a writer for the New Yorker, extensively document the internal and external machinations surrounding the hearings and interviewed Senator Biden several times.
He made decisions, they wrote, based on his views of respect for a person’s privacy about what and wouldn’t (sic) be let into the hearings – including the pornography rentals and Mr. Thomas’s thin legal record. (At Saddleback, Mr. Obama, a former law professor at the University of Chicago said, “I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas. I don’t think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation.”)
(At one point, Senator Biden’s aides (sic) and then he told Ms. Abramson and Ms. Mayer that digging in too deep on Mr. Thomas’s intellectual legal prowess would’ve been a problem. One aide said, “it was a racial thing.” Mr. Biden himself said, “There was in fact a concern about whether or not to make the guy look stupid – what would happen if you embarrassed him.”)
In one interview, the two wrote that Mr. Biden said later that he had tried to be a statesman, to uphold decency standards. In the end, however, he conceded that his motivations might have been “misplaced.” On excluding the pornography issue alone, they quoted Mr. Biden as saying that he acted, “in fairness to Thomas, which in retrospect he didn’t deserve.”
Well, he got THAT right.
The irony of all of this just kills me - Obama and Biden. Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill. Wow.
So, it seems we have not moved all that far forward in the past 17 years. Fear of being called a racist, and treating women as less credible than men, has been demonstrated for all to see over the past 18 months. How sad. Sad that we have not advanced further on women's issues (though we do have the Sexual Harassment law now - good luck winning one of those cases, but hey - it does exist!), or being able to speak the truth no matter the color of a person's skin. How sad that so much of this election has been based on those very issues. Seems we haven't come such a long way, baby...